Passage to Eastern Europe – 2015

Oct. 11 – It is still day one on this trip and I am unsettled. Those bunnies have given me a fright. I will get over it but I’m not sure how long it will take, perhaps days.

We have driven through more of the forests and the mountains which I know are full of ghouls and goblins and such. I slouch down in my seat so as not to be seen if one scampers on to the coach. Do ghouls scamper, I wonder? Do they eat the local guides first? Our’s is a nice size after all.

We arrive at the Bran Castle and it is just as one might imagine, I think. Tall turrets and high walls stretch up into the dark sky. The wind is howling at us as we walk up a slight grade to the frightful castle sitting to the left, behind a row of roses and other beautiful flowers. Yes, a little different than I had imagined, but even ghouls and werwolves can appreciate flowers I suppose. I am not reassured.

Some people have said that Bram Stoker, a friend of Oscar Wilde saw this castle and was inspired to write Dracula. There is no evidence of that. He was born November 8, 1847. He wrote Dracula in 1897. The stories of Vlad the Impaler surely fed his imagination and kept him awake at night until he unburdened himself of those evil spirits by writing the novel, Dracula. The world has never been the same since.

There is a thin man with a hollow face watching us. He looks a little dangerous. He is smoking and when he opens his mouth to exhale his smoke I can see them. Those teeth at the four corners of his mouth. They are just a little too long. We have brought plastic fangs, but he looks like he was born with his. Then his little daughter runs to him without stretched arms and he smiles and looks almost human again. Tricky fellows, these vampires.

We walked through the castle and learned quite a lot. We saw how the people lived in those days and saw there furnishings and table ware. We saw some photos of later inhabitants. Even some of those seemed a little transparent to me, but the guide said that they were all fine people.

This castle was used by Vlad “the Impaler” Tepes as his headquarters in preparation for his incursions into Transylvania.

We are staying in the Brasov hotel. Sounds safe enough, but who knows what we shall see in the evening as the sun goes down. I count the sheep before I go to bed to see how many have died through the night.

When I wake up, I count them again and one little one is missing. “Honey,” I start to yell and then I see the small lamb get up from behind a large clump of grass. “Lucky fellow I think,” and I’m not sure if I’m talking about the lamb or myself.

I have always known what I would do in case of a serious emergency, but this land of Transylvania has tested me more than once. I have remained at my wife’s side through the bunnies and other terrors that have come at me here and I have stood my ground.

Not all men who are tested, survive. Not all men who are tested pass the test. I am one of the lucky ones. I was tested in Transylvania. I stood my ground, protected my wife and lived to tell the tale.

The silent film, Nosferatu was filmed outside of Orava Castle and the Tegel Forest, not here. Surely the guy in that movie was a vampire, he looked awful.